Professionals help locals accomplish New Year’s goals

Three weeks into the new year, and many resolutions may have been broken already. Diets have been crashed, fitness routines tossed, and budgets blown.

Area professionals are offering tips in their respective fields to help residents in the Southern Crescent achieve New Year’s goals for their family’s financial and physical well-being.

Tim Kohl, the president of Epic Bikes in McDonough, suggested infusing outdoor activities in your exercise regimen. “Taking a step outside your normal rounds of New Year’s training presents us to the world of cycling,” Kohl said. “Cycling is a fun sport that everyone can connect with.

“Remember what it was like to ride your bicycle as a young kid,” he said. “You were able to experience freedom and mobility. The neighborhood no longer felt as large. For adults, the same holds true. We can get outside and explore new landscapes and areas of interest.”

Kohl said “fitness cycling” outdoors can be a year-round activity, particularly in Georgia, where temperatures are generally milder than in other parts of the country. “With a flat-bar, road bike, you can change your experience and get hours of enjoyment outside, and challenge yourself to get the best heart-rate-zone workouts,” he said.

“This is important because, as we train our heart, it becomes stronger and much more efficient. Consistent resistance accomplishes this. This helps to decrease body fat, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as degenerative diseases. Cycling can help cases of arthritis, orthopedic issues and other lower body injuries.”

Jonathan Rowe, a personal trainer and the owner of Rowe Fitness in McDonough, shared points on what to consider when it comes to improving and maintaining one’s physical well-being through diet and exercise.

“Keep in mind the average workout shouldn’t take any longer than 30-to-45 minutes to complete,” Rowe said. “Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated as you workout. It will give you the energy and strength you need to make it through those hard sessions.”

Rowe said many people’s goal is to lose body fat by following a healthy diet. “Unknowingly, the average person is misguided with the information obtained from magazines and articles,” he said. “One of the most important tips that we emphasize to our clients is doing low-impact cardio before their first meal of the day. In doing this, you force your body to burn stored body fat and glycogen. You lose more and more body fat, depending on the consistency of your cardiovascular regimen.”

Local veterinarian, Joey Fraser, pointed out that pets are not immune to needing routine wellness checkups. “You’ve made your New Year’s resolutions, but have you planned on the health of your four-legged family members for 2012,” said Fraser. “You’ve pledged to start the new year out right, so do your family and yourself a favor, and bring your pets along with you.”

Fraser, who practices at Eagle’s Landing Veterinary Hospital in McDonough, said people should always be current on preventative medications and vaccinations. “Make sure to see your vet for all of the recommended wellness visits,” she added. “These visits are designed to catch problems early, and they will add years to your pet’s life.”

Fraser said people should plan for the unexpected, when caring for their pets. “Just like us, our pets run into unforeseen problems,” she said. “First, look for a veterinarian that offers wellness plans that spread the cost of all wellness care out over the whole year. The enhanced preventative care available through these plans will really reduce the risk of costly problems in the long run.”

Pet owners should consider setting aside a small sum each month to pay for unexpected costs. Pet insurance, too, may be a good investment, according to Fraser. “Like us, our pets are likely to require more costly health care as they age,” she said. “With just $20 per month in a ‘fluffy account,’ you’ll be well set to handle these costs. With just a few simple steps, you can keep them happy and healthy for years to come, while saving money.”

Saving money is always a positive short-term goal, according to McDonough resident, Oliver Adams, the president and CEO of Buyers Credit Coach, Inc.

Adams, who retired as a First Sergeant (E8) after 25 years in the U.S. Army, said discipline is a necessary trait in handling one’s finances. He offered suggestions for those who want to focus on improving their credit and reducing their debt this year.

“Develop a realistic budget,” Adams said. “There is no way to escape this truth: Strong budget planning is your first line of defense against debt and overspending. Start now and make this your top priority.”

Adams advises residents to limit the interest accrued on debt, because interest determines how much you pay toward debt repayments and how long it takes to pay off debts.

“To limit the adverse impact of interest debt, you should double your minimum payment,” he said. “For example, if you have $1,000 in credit card debt with an interest rate of 20 percent, it will take you about 10 years to pay off the debt if you only pay the minimum payment. However, if you double the minimum payment each month, it will take you approximately two years to pay off the debt.”

The financial advisor suggests that debtors commit extra money derived from tax refunds, pay raises, and money saved from paid-off credit cards, to help pay off other debts sooner.